In the Media

07/23/11: Community mourns Hassan Zeidan

Community mourns Hassan Zeidan

By Nick Meyer- Arab American News

Saturday, 07.23.2011, 02:00pm

Community vows not to forget Zeidan, lessons learned as mourning continues 

DEARBORN – Just over a week since the shooting death of 23-year-old Hassan Zeidan rocked the local Arab American community, mourners have continued to cope in their own ways while support for Zeidan's family has continued to pour out from all corners. 

The above billboard, which can be seen between Ford and Warren Roads on Greenfield, was created by Hassan Zeidan's former employers at the Magical Touch Car Wash in Detroit. About 300 people came out for a vigil underneath it earlier this week.Thousands of people came out for a public viewing, prayers and more at the Islamic Center of America last Thursday, and Zeidan's burial was held the next day at United Memorial Gardens in Plymouth.

About 200 people also turned out for a candlelight vigil and prayers on Wednesday, July 20 at the basketball court near Riverside Academy, ACCESS, and the Islamic Institute of Knowledge, where Zeidan was killed a week earlier. Members of the family were there as candles were lit and arranged in the shape of hearts and Zeidan's initials. 

Ali Elzein, a cousin of Hassan's father Mustafa, was among those who attended and said he's spent the past week with Zeidan's immediate family in Dearborn. 

"They're holding up okay but it's really hard...it's not easy, it's a shocking thing for the whole community," he said. 

Earlier in the week, Magical Touch Car Wash of Detroit owners Mohamed, Wesam Issa and Zeidan's friends had a billboard message created in memory of Zeidan on Greenfield Road between Ford and Warren. The billboard shows his picture and the message, "You'll be out of our hearts, but never out of our sight, we'll miss you." 

Zeidan had worked at the car wash for a "few years" according to Mohamed Issa. Zeidan's younger brother Hussein still works there. 

Yet another vigil of about 300 people, according to Issa, was held under the billboard earlier in the week. 

Despite the tragedy, Issa believes that Zeidan's death has brought people in the community together and even encouraged some younger people to give up grudges once held. 

At Wednesday's candlelight vigil, Elzein said the family has been informed that police have video of the incident from nearby security cameras, although the investigation is still open according to police, who released no further details beyond the initial press release and the announcement of the arraignment of 34-year-old Fadi Faraj as the main suspect.

Candles were formed in the shape of the initials of Hassan Zeidan on Wednesday, July 20 at the site of his shooting death. PHOTO: Nick Meyer/TAAN Faraj, a boxer from Dearborn, was charged last Friday with first-degree murder and felony firearm charges in 19th District Court and appeared with a badly-damaged left eye. He is being held without bond and has a preliminary examination scheduled for August 12. 

Zeidan had been shot multiple times after a basketball game-related altercation and the shooting suspect was attacked by other participants afterward according to witnesses. 

Elzein talked about the Zeidan family's reaction to the arraignment. 

"The Zeidan family does not hold (any other family members) responsible, they hold the guy who did the killing responsible and hope he will be punished as he should be," he said. 

Faraj had been battling mental health issues according to Ray Mihtar of Dearborn, who trained him and worked his corner during a fight at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in December 2007.

"That wasn't the Fadi I knew...I can't imagine somebody doing that let alone someone who I knew  pretty good, on a good basis who was a good person," Mihtar said.

"But it's safe to say I always knew he had issues, mental issues...he didn't do a good job of keeping them in check, he was very mentally unstable from what I saw.

"That's not an excuse but it's troubling...my heart goes out to the kid who died, I've heard nothing but wonderful things about him." 

Faraj's uncle was shot and killed in November 2007 at his gas station on Detroit's west side, and he had dedicated the 2007 fight, which he won by knockout in the first round, to his memory. Mihtar believes the shooting may have taken a mental toll on him. 

While Faraj awaits his fate, the grieving has continued for community members and the family. 

Elzein said visits to the Zeidan household have been constant to offer condolences, even from people who did know know Hassan Zeidan personally. 

Dr. Adnan Hammad of ACCESS has led a team of counselors who have visited local families and fielded calls to help with the healing process. Hammad said he is planning a large conference tentatively scheduled for October with other nearby communities including Latino and African American community representatives to discuss strategies for preventing violence. He plans to visit families affected by the Zeidan tragedy next week. 

"It is very, very sad and everybody has been affected, this is not just a family shock but a community shock.

"As a community we need to come together and engage in conversation and dialogue, extend and engage in monitoring the behavior of our kids and to spend more time with them face-to-face," he said, adding that he believes that there is a "generational gap" in the community as others have suggested.

"We have a great community but we cannot let them loose and just say 'Our culture is a good culture,' that's not going to protect anybody if we don't direct our values to the right targets.

"We are lucky this is not a chronic killing (problem), it is only the beginning of the trauma; now is the time for us to eliminate it."

About 1,000 people also came out for a memorial service at the Islamic Center of America on Thursday, July 21 for Zeidan. Among the speakers were Imam Mohammed Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, Sheikh Sayed Ibrahim Abdullah Saleh of the Islamic Shi'a High Council of Detroit, publisher of The Arab American News, Osama Siblani, Bint Jbeil Cultural Center Founder Mohamed Turfe and more.